Back home - Leyland trucks return after more than 20 years

Photo Neil Cross
Ex-British Army Leyland Daf 4 x 4 trucks coming 'home' where they were built about 20 years ago after being bought by John Sharples.
Photo Neil Cross Ex-British Army Leyland Daf 4 x 4 trucks coming 'home' where they were built about 20 years ago after being bought by John Sharples.
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A small fleet of Leyland DAF trucks have returned ‘home’ after more than 20 years.

The ex-British Army 4x4s are thought to be among the last of their kind built in this country.

The vehicles left the Leyland factory for military service after rolling off the production line in the 1990s.

Now they are set for a new lease of life - and are sure to bring back many happy memories for the former Leyland workers who put them together.

The trucks have been acquired by John Sharples. He said: “We’ve been dealing in ex-army trucks for many years. We buy them from the dispersal department at the MoD.

“They seem to change over every twenty or thirty years and the Leyland’s seemed to be coming to the end of their life.

“They’ve been replaced by German MANs, which is quite ironic really - but that’s a different story.

“They’re in lovely condition and after twenty or twenty five years they’re coming back to the place where they were made just a mile or so down the road. The men who built them, some will be retired now.”

John, who has dealt in ex-MoD and government vehicles for more than 20 years, says the trucks have been out on general army service, but does not think they have been used in any conflict areas.

“Some could have gone overseas, squaddies have the training ground.”

He said: “These truck make great campers, expedition vehicles, some are used in quarries, construction and mining.

“They’ve been well looked after by the military.”

John, who runs J Sharples, Nook Lane, said of the Leyland trucks: “They’re non-electronic. A lot of foreign countries haven’t got the technology and if they break down in the jungle you don’t want to be calling a man out with a lap top.

“They’re the last of the basic, old fashioned fixable lorries. I think they’re the last British-built 4x4 trucks that I know of. Leyland made the last 4x4 trucks for the British Army.”

He added; “We’ve got abut twenty in stock and are hoping to get some more when they become available.

“We sell them for around £5,00-£6,000.

“We advertise them all over the world on the internet.”

Leyland’s bus and truck operations were separated in preparation for their sell off in 1987 when Leyland Trucks merged with DAF of the Netherlands to form Leyland DAF.

The current production facility based in Leyland is Leyland Trucks while the sales arm is DAF Trucks.

Leyland DAF as an entity no longer exists.

The Ministry of Defence explained that theLeyland DAF 4 tonne 4 x 4 was procured by the UK MoD as a General Service Vehicle for transporting equipment and personnel on cross country or normal roads.

The vehicle was designed and built at Leyland Trucks, with production of the main contract fleet of vehicles running between 1989 and 1994 producing circa 5,000 vehicles.

The largest percentage of vehicles were General Service Cargo (GS Cargo) variants with drop sides and tailboard. However, numerous variants were supplied, including: Unit Bulk Refuelling Equipment (UBRE), Fitted for Radio (FFR), Tipper, Crane Attachment Lorry Mounted (CALM), Light Recovery, Tactical Aircraft Refueller (TAR), Winterised and Waterproofed, Troop Carrying Variant (TCV) to name but a few. The vehicle was fully air-portable, both in Hercules and underslung beneath the Chinook helicopter.

All the variants have the same engine and transmission system. A Leyland 313 – 6 cylinder, 145 BHP diesel engine, driving through an Eaton 6 speed gearbox and permanent 4 wheel drive with a lockable Hi / Low ratio 3rd differential.

Steve Whelan, marketing Manager at Leyland Trucks. “It’s always good to see ex-Leyland vehicles given a second or even third life and still going strong.” He added “It’s a great testament to those involved in their original production some two decades ago.”